As we all continue to navigate the uncharted waters surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on nearly every aspect of life, you may be wondering what the direct implications will be for your business insurance and employee benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Coronavirus Impact on Business Insurance
At Evans, Ewan & Brady Insurance Agency, we’ve addressed many customer questions and have compiled some of them here for your benefit.
Do I have business interruption coverage during the pandemic?
The majority of property insurance policies cover some aspects of business interruption, typically including civil authority and property coverage. This tends to cover physical losses and property damage. However, they are not implicitly designed to apply in the case of COVID-19. Separate business interruption coverage may be more comprehensive.
Each claim is unique, and therefore we cannot address every hypothetical scenario. If you are experiencing an interruption, your best course of action is to file a claim and allow your adjustors to make the final call on your level of coverage. Communication is key as we all work through these unprecedented times.
Does workers’ compensation coverage apply to COVID-19?
Workers’ compensation coverage helps your employees recover from injuries sustained while on the job or performing work-related duties. In order to file a claim, employees will need to prove that the injuries or illnesses they have had were directly related to their employment. If this is the case, a COVID-19 patient would only be eligible for workers’ compensation if they can prove that they became infected as a consequence of their employment.
While most companies prefer that you file your claim directly, Evans, Ewan & Brady Insurance Agency will gladly assist you with the process as needed.
Should I close my office, and will the government provide financial assistance?
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering some states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic difficulties as a result of COVID-19. When a request is received from a state or territory’s governor, the SBA has the authority to issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
This loan assistance makes loans available to small businesses, as well as private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate economic struggles caused by the virus. These loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide critical economic relief to help your small business overcome temporary loss of revenue. Some common uses for this loan include:
- Paying fixed debts
- Accounts payable
- Other bills and operating costs
For additional information, you can contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Is temporary relief of premium payments available?
This is determined on an individual basis by your insurance company. Evans, Ewan & Brady Insurance Agency is ready to help with all of your billing and payment issues, including the possible adjustment of due dates. Please contact our team online or give us a call at 512-869-1511 to discuss flexible payment and deadline options for your business insurance policy.
Are my employees still entitled to paid time off?
If your employees miss work due to themselves or a family member contracting COVID-19, they may be entitled to paid time off, depending on your employment agreement. Typically, non-exempt employees are not paid for time off. Special rules generally apply to union members, depending on the terms of their collective bargaining agreement.
Is federal assistance available for employers and employees?
The U.S. Senate approved a coronavirus relief bill on March 19, 2020 that requires employers to provide paid leave for some employees related to COVID-19. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires two weeks of paid sick leave for affected government workers and employees of companies with less than 500 employees
- Provides FMLA rights for some employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees
The bill also provides funding for economic relief, requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge, and includes a refundable tax credit for employers that provide paid leave benefits to the virus. The Secretary of Labor may have the authority to exempt employers with less than 50 employees from this requirement. Some things to consider during this time:
- Consider having staff available for emergency services, as some staff may want to remain home during this time.
- Review your employee handbook thoroughly to find anything that addresses layoff situations or using paid leave for unplanned circumstances. If it does, follow these rules. If it isn’t clear, the professionals at Evans, Ewan & Brady Insurance Agency are happy to review your handbook requirements with you. Please contact us online or call at 512-869-1511 to discuss your employee handbook with our team.
- Discuss with your leadership team whether to place your employees on a temporary layoff (even if it is just a reduction of their normal hours) so that they can apply for unemployment benefits.
- Communicate with your employees and let them know that you look forward to getting them back to work as soon as possible!
Are my employees eligible for short-term disability (STD)?
If you have an employee who becomes sick, exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for the virus and they are unable to work from home, they will be eligible to receive STD benefits as outlined in their contract. If the employee is not exhibiting symptoms but is self-quarantining and continuing to work from home, they do not qualify for STD benefits.
Are employees eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
If your employee or a member of their family contracts COVID-19, that employee may be entitled to time off from work under federal or state leave laws. An employee who has a serious health condition or who needs time to care for a family member with such condition may be able to take leave under the FMLA.
Employees may want to stay home for fear of exposure to or contraction of the virus. Whether you can accommodate these requests depends on the evidence of risk. While refusal to work could violate your attendance policy, you should consult with legal counsel prior to taking disciplinary action. If there is no reasonable basis to believe the employee will be at risk while working, they might not be paid for time that is missed.
For more information regarding your business insurance and the impact of the current global pandemic, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and schedule a time to speak with our team or call us at 512-869-1511. We are committed to serving you through these times of uncertainty.